Published October 28, 2011 - 6:39am
NEW: Discuss this topic in the Google+ community for SEC fans.
Reviewing the LSU Tigers at their bye week:
MVP: The MVP so far through eight games is defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. This kid exemplifies the word animal on defense, albeit a smoking animal, but nonetheless an animal. Mathieu has been dubbed the Honey Badger and with good reason. The kid takes what he wants on defense. Mathieu is tied for the league lead in forced fumbles with Jadeveon Clowney (4), and he has already set an LSU record for forced fumbles (8) for a career. He will be able to add to that over the rest of this season and next year. I think, pound for pound, Mathieu is as good as anyone in the country, and he’s certainly as aggressive as anyone in the country.
Runner-up: Rueben Randle is arguably the best receiver in the SEC this season. Randle has currently leaped to first in the SEC in receiving yards (638 yards), receiving touchdowns (7) and yards per catch (19.3). Randle has really upped his game this season for the Tigers, and he’s been that go-to receiver who LSU can count on. Whether it’s a fly route or an intermediate route, Randle has proven he can get open this year for the Tigers and Jarrett Lee.
Biggest Surprise: No doubt the biggest surprise for the LSU Tigers this season has been Jarrett Lee. Lee has played out-of-this-world good and very efficient in the passing game. He has thrown one interception this season – one! Everyone was pointing to Jordan Jefferson and how he stepped up his game in the spring, and how Jefferson will be the guy to lead this team to the promise land. Well, those plans went away even before the season started with the word of Jefferson’s arrest, and Lee was ready to step up to the plate and take charge. Lee is leading the SEC in passing efficiency (157.4), fourth in passing yards (1,250) and second in passing touchdowns (13). Lee’s emergence at quarterback is probably the leading reason, besides the defense, that LSU is sitting at 8-0 right now.
Biggest Disappointment: The biggest disappointment for the LSU Tigers in 2011 has been Jordan Jefferson’s arrest, and the black eye the fight heard round the college football world left on the Tigers’ program. While Jarrett Lee has stepped up to the plate in a big way this season, Jefferson was thought to move this offense better, both on the ground and through the air. He was playing better in the spring under Steve Kragthorpe, and we all thought it was his time to shine. But that never happened and the rest is history. Who knows, this could have been the best thing that happened to LSU this season, not the biggest disappointment. For now, I will call it a disappointment. If LSU runs the table and goes 13-0, we’ll call it the best thing that ever happened to LSU.
Stat To Note: The biggest stat to note is that LSU is leading the SEC in passing efficiency (162.4), completion percentage (63.6) and fewest interceptions (1). After a tumultuous season a year ago, it looked like all LSU needed to be a National Championship team was a quarterback. Between Jefferson and Lee, it was ugly for 85 percent of the time. However, this year, under much weirder circumstances with Jefferson being suspended early, Lee has raised his game to a new height this year. I love watching this kid play, and I hope Les Miles’ tinkering of the quarterbacks does not interrupt Lee’s confidence or rhythm.
Looking Ahead: The only game that means anything for LSU right now is next week against Alabama. This LSU team is just the perfect team to roll into Tuscaloosa, swagger and all, and pull off one of the biggest regular season games in LSU football history. The talent and athleticism is there, now all Les Miles has to do is taste the grass in Bryant-Denny, and it will be all over.